Shortage of food inspectors hits gutka ban implementation

Shortage of food inspectors hits gutka ban implementation

Shortage of food inspectors hits gutka ban implementation

The implementation of the much-touted gutka ban has hit a roadblock due to severe shortage of food inspectors in the State. According to health department officials, against a minimum requirement of 210 food inspectors, currently there are only 85.

Gutka ban is being implemented under the Food Safety and Standards Authority Act and requires qualified graduates of pure sciences (chemistry or biology) to serve as food inspectors. The department has placed advertisements, calling for applicants to fill the vacancies.

Meanwhile, the Health department, officials said, has approached the Home department for help to implement the ban. According to M Madan Gopal, Principal Secretary to the Health and Family Department, they had requested the Director General and Inspector General of Police (DG&IGP) to ensure that police personnel across the State apprehend those selling gutka.

“When the ban on smoking in public spaces was implemented, we got the co-operation of the police department. Similarly, we are seeking their co-operation to implement the gutka ban,” Gopal said. The Health department has also sought the support of urban local bodies (ULBs) and orders are being issued by the Urban Development department to chief officers of the ULBs to implement the ban.

Currently, the State government has sealed all gutka manufacturing units in Karnataka. On alternative employment for those working in the manufacturing units, the State has asked the owners to shift production to non-tobacco or non-nicotine based arecanut products.

‘No impact on growers’

The State government has said there will be no impact of the gutka ban on arecanut growers in the State. Horticulture department principal secretary M K Shankarlinge Gowda said the areca grown in the State is never utilised in the manufacture of gutka.

“We are likely to see only a small percentage of arecanut growers who may be impacted by the gutka ban. But, they can change their land use to plantations or other such activities. The arecanut used in the manufacture of gutka is the reject of the actual arecanut,” he said. Most of the arecanut used in the manufacture of gutka comes from outside the country and only 25 per cent is from the State.

On the Gorakh Singh Committee report, Gowda said the measures recommended in the report had already been taken and farmers in Chikmagalur and Shimoga are being encouraged to grow alternative crops. On loan waiver, Gowda said only those loans obtained from co-operative societies by arecanut growers can be waived of.
“For those who have sought loans from nationalised banks, it is the Centre which has to take the call,” he said.